In Sunday's Washington Post, Richard Viguerie (one of the founders of the modern conservative movement in this country) confirmed my assessment.
In an Op-Ed piece entitled "Bush's Base Betrayal," Viguerie runs down a long list of what he believes are examples of Bush administration betrayal of the principles and causes upon which the conservative movement has been based.
Viguerie's list of disappointments differ significantly from what many Democrats would list as our disappointments with the Bush administration, but his assessment of the heart of the Republican Party's problems is instructive:
For years, congressional Republicans have sold themselves to conservatives as the continuation of the Reagan revolution. We were told that they would take on the Washington special interests -- that they would, in essence, tear down K Street and sow the earth with salt to make sure nothing ever grew there again.Social conservatives feel used by Bush, Rove and the Congressional Republicans who, once in power, focused on catering to the interests of "Big Business" (Viguerie's term!).
But over time, most of them turned into the sort of unprincipled power brokers they had ousted in 1994. They lost interest in furthering conservative ideas, and they turned their attention to getting their share of the pork. Conservatives did not spend decades going door to door, staffing phone banks and compiling lists of like-minded voters so Republican congressmen could have highways named after them and so there could be an affirmative-action program for Republican lobbyists.
White House and congressional Republicans seem to have adopted a one-word strategy: bribery. Buy off seniors with a prescription drug benefit. Buy off the steel industry with tariffs. Buy off agribusiness with subsidies. The cost of illegal bribery (see the case of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham) pales next to that of legal bribery such as congressional earmarks.
Viguerie goes on to suggest that Republicans losing control of Congress might actually be a good thing for conservatives.
Why the anger? It comes out in the close of the piece:
I've never seen conservatives so downright fed up as they are today. The current relationship between Washington Republicans and the nation's conservatives makes me think of a cheating husband whose wife catches him, and forgives him, time and time again. Then one day he comes home to discover that she has packed her bags and called a cab -- and a divorce lawyer.That can only mean trouble for country clubbing, BMW-driving, Italian-loafer wearing Republicans like the guy currently claiming to represent Louisiana's 7th District.
As the philanderer learns: Hell hath no fury. . . .
Interestingly (and relevant to the 7th District), Viguerie lumps the failures of FEMA under Bush as a cause for disillusionment:
For all of conservatives' patience, we've been rewarded with the botched Hurricane Katrina response, headed by an unqualified director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which proved that the government isn't ready for the next disaster.The relevance to the 7th District is that, as residents of Southwest Louisiana know, FEMA's work in the wake of Hurricane Rita was every bit as dismal as its work in the wake of Katrina. The national media has an easier time getting in and out of New Orleans, but the story of the FEMA failures in this district are every bit as appalling. Real conservatives believe that government must, at some fundamental level, function. Bush's FEMA failed Louisiana twice last year. Viguerie lives in Virginia but those failures showed him something he didn't like about Bush and his administration.
So, it's not just Democrats who are upset with Bush. Conservatives have joined the line. So, Bush's unique combination of arrogance and incompetence may just prove that he is a uniter after all? He's got the a broad range of the political spectrum in this country agreeing that the President and his Congressional partners are making a hell of a mess out of the country we love.